Friendly Societies

Friendly societies are registered under the Friendly Societies Acts 1896-2018. They are established for various purposes, mostly to provide small life assurance benefits, sick benefits and death benefits to members, to provide benefits to non-members or to promote particular activities or interests.

Registration of a Friendly Society
It is no longer possible to register a new Friendly Society. The change was introduced following the application of Section 5 of the Friendly Societies and Industrial and Provident Societies (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014.

Post Registration Requirements

Annual Return
After registration, a society must have its accounts audited each year by a registered statutory auditor. A society must make an annual return, made up to 31 December, to the Registrar by the following 31 May and the return must be accompanied by the audited accounts. Failure to submit an annual return leaves a society liable to prosecution and also to having its registration cancelled. A society whose registration has been cancelled can only have it restored by applying to the High Court, which can be a costly process.

Checklist for Completion of Annual Return Form
Most documents submitted to the Registry currently have to be returned because of errors. Please follow the points on the checklist to avoid documents being rejected. Societies which are not up-to-date with their filings could be cancelled from the register. 

  • Check the name and registered number and registered office of the society/union. (These items can be checked on the RFS Online Portal - https://rfs.cro.ie/login).
  • If the registered office has changed, a separate form should be completed to update this information. (form H)
  • Check the number of members - the figure for the beginning of the year should correspond with the number of members at the end of the previous year.
  • The auditor must sign and date the Auditors Report.
  • An annual return form must be accompanied by the filing fee of €40. A cheque should be made payable to the Registry of Friendly Societies.
  • If the trustee information has changed during the year, a separate form should be completed to update this information. (form I/Ib)

Please Note: Where the accounts submitted, whether in the auditors report or the directors statement, refer to a "company" or to the "Companies Acts", the submission will be rejected and returned to the presenter for correction.Equally where account documents refer to the society type being a "company limited by guarantee" the accounts will be refused. Any reference to the type should be reference to a Friendly Society. Reference in the auditors report should be that the information is correct "in accordance with the Friendly Societies Acts, 1896 to 2018".

Amendments to Registered Rules
If a society amends any of its rules, it must apply to the Registrar to have the amendment registered. The Registrar will register the amendment when he/she is satisfied that it is in accordance with statute. An amendment to rule is not valid until it has been registered by the Registrar. Application forms to register amendments to rule are available from the Registry.

Partial amendment: Form B: An application to register a partial amendment of rules must be made by the secretary of the society and must be sent to the Registrar, accompanied by:
(a) a statutory declaration in Form C; and
(b) two copies of the proposed new rulebook (complete) as it has been altered following the changes. The new rules must be signed by three members and the secretary (both copies).

Complete Amendment: Form D: Application to register a complete amendment of rules must be made by the secretary of the society & must be sent to the Registrar, accompanied by:
(a) a statutory declaration in Form C; and
(b) two copies of the proposed new rulebook (complete) as it has been altered following the changes. The new rules must be signed by three members and the secretary (both copies).

Change of Registered Office
If a society changes its registered office it must notify the Registrar within 14 days. Form H is submitted and has a filing fee of €15.

Link to Forms Page.                                        Link to Fees Page 

Change of Name, Amalgamation, Transfer of Engagements and Conversion
A society may by special resolution change its name, amalgamate with or transfer its engagements to another society or convert itself into a company. Each of these processes requires that the society applies to the Registrar to have the process registered.

Change of Name is made with the permission of the Registrar under section 69 Friendly Societies Act 1896:

  • Form T – Application for a Change of Name is (submitted in duplicate) and accompanied by
  • Form U – Declaration for registry of a special resolution.

Any two or more registered societies may, by special resolution of both or all such societies, become amalgamated together as one society, with or without any dissolution or division of the funds of those societies or either of them. Amalgamation is made under section 70 Friendly Societies Act 1896:

  • Form V – Application for the amalgamation of Societies is submitted in duplicate and accompanies by
  • Form U – Declaration for registry of a special resolution.

A registered society may, by special resolution, transfer its engagements to any other registered society which may undertake to fulfil the engagements of that society. A Transfer of Engagements is made under section 70 Friendly Societies Act 1896: 

  • Form W – Application for registry of a special resolution for transfer of engagements is submitted in duplicate and is accompanied by
  • Form U – Declaration for registry of a special resolution.

A registered society may, by special resolution, determine to convert itself into a company under the Companies Act 2014, or to amalgamate with or transfer its engagements to any such company. Conversion to a Company is made under section 71 Friendly Societies Act 1896.

  • Form AA – application for registration of a special resolution for Conversion to a company. (submitted in triplicate).
  • Form U – Declaration for registry of a special resolution
  • <Form A1 where the society is converting to a company. Filing fee €100. Cheque to be made out to CRO but delivered to the RFS>

Link to Forms Page.                                               Link to Fees Page 

Termination

Cancellation
The Registrar can cancel the registration of a society

  • if he/she thinks fit at the request of the society or, with the approval of the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation;
  • on proof to his/her satisfaction that registration was obtained by fraud or mistake;
  • that the society exists for an unlawful purpose or has, after notice from the Registrar, violated any provisions of the Acts.

This latter provision has been used by the Registrar in recent years to cancel the registration of societies which had failed to furnish annual returns, despite repeated reminders. A society seeking to have its registration cancelled can apply using Form AI. The advertising of Cancelling is in the Form AN.